We remember “Lovin’ You” singer Minnie Riperton and other celebrities who died this day, July 12, in history.
2020: Kelly Preston, actress known for roles in movies including “Jerry Maguire,” “Twins,” and “Sky High,” and who was actor John Travolta’s wife, dies at 57.
2013: Amar Bose, U.S. entrepreneur who founded the Bose Corp., which is known for audio speakers, dies at 83.
Bose started a research program in physical acoustics and psychoacoustics, leading to the development of patents in acoustics, electronics, nonlinear systems, and communication theory, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. “As long as there are interesting problems to solve, I’ll stay active,” Bose said in a 2005 interview. Read more
2011: Sherwood Schwartz, U.S. television producer who created two classic sitcoms, “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch,” dies at 94.
While critics didn’t always love Schwartz’s shows (to state it kindly), he defended them as good entertainment that didn’t rely on dumb jokes. He was proud of what he saw as richly drawn characters and quality writing. Though the premise of “Gilligan’s Island” was a bit ridiculous, the characters were classic and the jokes well-written. And the children on “The Brady Bunch” faced realistic problems that were of genuine concern to young viewers—in Schwartz’s words, “the difficulty of being the middle girl; a boy being too short when he wants to be taller; going to the prom with zits on your face.” Read more
2010: Harvey Pekar, U.S. comic book writer known best for his autobiographical “American Splendor” comic book series, dies at 70.
Pekar never drew himself but depended on collaborations with artists, most notably his friend R. Crumb, who helped illustrate the first issue of the ironically titled “American Splendor,” published in 1976, according to Pekar’s obituary by The Associated Press. It was made into an acclaimed 2003 film starring Paul Giamatti as Pekar. The most recent “American Splendor” was released in 2008. Read more
2004: Jeff Morris, U.S. actor who had a role as Bob, the owner of Bob’s Country Bunker in “The Blues Brothers movies,” dies at 69.
2003: Benny Carter, U.S. jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, trumpeter, composer, and bandleader who was a major figure in jazz, dies of bronchitis complications at 95.
1998: Jimmy Driftwood, U.S. folk musician and songwriter whose best-known song was “The Battle of New Orleans,” dies of a heart attack at 91.
1996: Jonathan Melvoin, U.S. musician who contributed on a Prince and the Revolution album and was the touring keyboard player for the Smashing Pumpkins at the time of his death, dies of a heroin overdose at 34.
1996: John Chancellor, U.S. newscaster who was the anchor of the “NBC Nightly News” from 1970 until 1982, dies of stomach cancer at 68.
1983: Chris Wood, English musician who was a founding member of the rock group Traffic and played mostly saxophone or flute with the band, dies of pneumonia at 39.
1979: Minnie Riperton, U.S. singer-songwriter known best for “Lovin’ You,” her No. 1 hit in 1975, dies of breast cancer at 31.
Though Riperton’s talent and vocal range were huge, her career would be short. Her only major hit, “Lovin’ You,” captured the attention of the world in 1975, making it to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. and in 24 other countries. The song showcased Riperton’s stunning range and the incredible clarity of her voice.
In 1976, Riperton was diagnosed with breast cancer and subsequently became one of the first celebrities to make her breast cancer diagnosis public. She died of the disease just three years later at 31, leaving behind two children, one of whom was future actress Maya Rudolph. Read more
1976: Ted Mack, U.S. host of the popular “Ted Mack and the Original Amateur Hour” talent contest on radio and TV, dies at 72.
1973: Lon Chaney Jr., U.S. actor known for the horror movies “The Wolfman,” “The Mummy,” and “Frankenstein’s Monster,” dies of heart failure at 67.
1935: Alfred Dreyfus, French army officer who was arrested for treason and sent to prison in a contentious trial known as the Dreyfus Affair and was later exonerated and allowed to resume his military career, dies at 75.
1849: Dolley Madison, U.S. first lady of the United States from 1809 until 1817, dies at 81.
1804: Alexander Hamilton, U.S. politician who was a founding father of the United States and the country’s first secretary of the treasury, dies of wounds sustained in a duel with rival Aaron Burr at either 47 or 49.